The trust factor between seller and buyer in the online space must be heightened in order to grow the local e-commerce sector.


This is essentially the spirit of the House Bill (HB) No.4, or the proposed “An Act providing protection to consumers and merchants engaged in Internet transactions, creating for the purpose the Electronic Commerce (E-commerce) Bureau, and appropriating funds therefor.”

Among the authors of the bill are Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez, the presumptive House Speaker of the upcoming 19th Congress; and presidential son, Ilocos Norte 1st district Rep. Sandro Marcos.

The bill cited a 2019 study by Google and Temasek, which said that, in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) alone, the Internet economy is experiencing exponential growth as total Gross Mechandise Value (GMV) in Southeast Asia has reached the $100-billion mark, and is projected to reach $300 billion in 2025.

It noted that the Philippines had the lowest GMV in 2019 at $7 billion, lower than Malaysia ($11 billion), Vietnam ($12 billion),  Singapore ($12 billion), Thailand ($16 billion), and Indonesia ($40 billion).

“This—despite the Philippines’ estimated 76 million active Internet users and high Internet penetration rate (71 percent vis-a-vis 54 percent global average), longer spent hours daily on the Internet (10 hours vis-a-vis global average of six hours and 42 minutes), and very high social media penetration for population aged 13 and above (99 percent vis-a-vis 50 percent global average),” the bill’s explanatory note read.

“Philippine MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises) lag behind the adoption of e-commerce because enterprises either find using digital technology platforms too difficult, or are unaware of the benefits they offer,” it said.

“The Philippines also lacks policies and regulations that will facilitate online transactions and cross-border trade processes,” it added.

The authors identified “lack of trust” between consumer and merchant as a top concern in the bid to growing the local e-commerce sector.

Other problems identified were the low Internet speed in the Philippines; weak last-minute delivery options, challenging topographical structure; payment schemes; lack of governing entity at the regional level that can fight cybercrime and settle cross-border dispute; and difficulties in returning purchased products.

As such, the bill “will address the need to establish a singular office that will 1.) be responsible to carry out provisions thereof, 2.) ensure the implementation of Republic Act (RA) No. 8792 or the Electronic E-commerce Act of 2000, and 3) serve as the focal point in the monitoring and implementation of the Philippine E-commerce Roadmap”.

The bill provides for the creation of the E-Commerce Bureau, which would be placed under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Among the powers and functions of the bureau are the following: to implement, monitor, and ensure strict compliance by e-commerce stakeholders of the provision of the proposed Act; build trust between consumers and sellers by requiring e-commerce platform operators, online merchants, or any other entity who engages in e-commerce to register their business with the bureau; and formulate policies, plans, and programs to ensure the robust and dynamic development of e-commerce.

The bureau shall be headed by a director to be appointed by the president of the Philippines, as recommended by the Secretary of Trade and Industry.

The same measure was approved on Third Reading in the House of Representatives during the previous 18th Congress, when former Deputy Speaker Wes Gatchalian of Valenzuela’s 1st  district was its principal author.

Also serving as authors were Tingog Party-List Reps. Yedda Marie Romualdez and Jude Acidre.

Source: Manila Bulletin (